by Bonfiglioli, Lanconelli, Uguzzoni in [3], [4], [5] that the fundamental solution h
exists and satisfies Gaussian bounds of the kind (0.4). As a consequence of these
estimates, in [6] it is proved a scaling invariant Harnack inequality for the operator
A particular class of operators of the kind (0.6), namely ultraparabolic opera-
tors of Kolmogorov-Fokker-Planck type, has been studied by Pascucci and Polidoro
in relation both with Harnack inequality and Gaussian bounds for the fundamental
solution; see [47].
Previous results about Harnack inequality for general ormander’s operators
date back to Bony’s seminal paper [8], where a first qualitative version of this result
is proved. A first scaling invariant Harnack inequality for heat-type H¨ormander’s
operators was proved later by Kusuoka-Stroock [35].
Strategy and structure of the paper. Following the general strategy used
in the case of homogeneous groups in [3], [4], [6], our study proceeds in three steps,
corresponding to the Parts of this paper. In Part I we consider operators of kind
(0.1) with constant coefficients aij, and no lower order terms. For these operators,
existence and basic properties of the fundamental solution hA are guaranteed by
known results (see Section 3). Here the point is to prove sharp Gaussian bounds
on hA, which have to be uniform in the ellipticity class of the matrix A = {aij} .
In Part II we study operators with variable older continuous coefficients
aij,ak,a0, and apply the results of Part I to establish existence and Gaussian bounds
for the fundamental solution of these operators. This is accomplished by a suitable
adaptation to our subelliptic context of the classical Levi’s parametrix method.
Finally, thanks to the results of Part II, the proof of a Harnack inequality for
H can follow the lines drawn in [6], and inspired by Fabes-Stroock’s paper [22]:
this is accomplished in Part III.
For the reader’s convenience, we have included at the beginning of each Part
of the paper more details about the strategy, the techniques, and the main new
difficulties we had to overcome to reach our results.
A motivation. Many problems in geometric theory of several complex vari-
ables lead to fully nonlinear second order equations, whose linearizations are non-
variational operators of ormander type (0.5). Here we would like to present one
of these problems whose source goes back to some papers by Bedford, Gaveau,
Slodkowsky and Tomassini, see [2], [56], [54].
Let M be a real hypersurface, embedded in the Euclidean complex space
The Levi form of M at a point p M is a Hermitian form on the complex tan-
gent space whose eigenvalues λ1 (p) , ..., λn (p) determine in the directions of each
corresponding eigenvector a kind of “principal curvature”. Then, given a general-
ized symmetric function s, in the sense of Caffarelli-Nirenberg-Spruck [14], one can
define the s-Levi curvature of M at p, as follows:
Sp (M) = s (λ1 (p) , ..., λn (p)) .
When M is the graph of a function u and one imposes that its s-Levi curvature
is equal to a given function, one obtains a second order fully nonlinear partial
differential equation, which can be seen as the pseudoconvex counterpart of the
usual fully nonlinear elliptic equations of Hessian type, as studied e.g. in [14]. In
linearized form, the equations of this new class can be written as (see [43, equation
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